Jessica Walpole (Class of 2015)

  • honors senior double major in Biochemistry and Zoology with a premedical studies focus
  • minor in Neuroscience
  • from Uniontown, OH
  • member of the Mallory-Wilson Center Student Advisory Board
  • received the 2015 Ken and Joan Frankel Outstanding Premedical Student Award
  • attending The Ohio State University College of Medicine to become a pediatrician
"I've honestly loved every Miami class that I've taken. [Biochemistry and Zoology] majors require hands-on experiences with all the different labs, and being a hands-on learner is good for going into the medical field."

Update September 2015

Jessica Walpole at The Ohio State University College of Medicine

"I was recently inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society and graduated from Miami summa cum laude in May 2015 .

"I want to give a special thank you shout-out to Dr. David Pennock and Mr. Rob Balfour, both from the Mallory-Wilson Center for Healthcare Education. Both of them helped me more than they know over the past four years! As my advisors, chairs of the Mallory-Wilson Student Advisory Board, professors, and friends, they guided me to being the best student as I continued moving on to the next step. Now I can happily say that I'm going to medical school at my first choice, The Ohio State University, because of their help!"

Original Conversation: April 2015

Why Miami?

"When I came to visit Miami for the first time, it was the only school that felt like home. I noticed that the students seemed happy, involved, and wanted to be here. Miami's high emphasis on academics was exactly what I was looking for, and it's hard to beat #2 nationwide in undergraduate teaching!

"In addition, Miami's opportunities for research were fantastic, and I was drawn by the high acceptance rate into medical school. I knew that medical school would be the next step in my education, in the hopes of becoming a pediatrician.

"Miami students typically do well in medical school, so I've felt exceptionally prepared in everything from anatomy, to physiology, to basic statistics. Aside from raw knowledge, I've learned how to study and be a good student, and I think that's going to really pay off in the long run.

"Trial and error is the best way to describe how I got accustomed to things my first year. I became involved in a lot of classroom and social activities right away because I wanted to find what I really liked. Everything was new and different, but when you're living for the first time on your own you need to figure out how to be a college student and handle that responsibility."

Best Miami Experiences

Jessica Walpole poses with a 'Little Sister'.

"Everyone at Miami, both faculty and students, has shown that they genuinely enjoy being here. This creates a great learning environment, and I can honestly say that every encounter I've had with professors has been positive. But beyond the classroom, I was able to find friends who had similar personalities to my own and who enjoyed the same things. I know that the friends I made during my four years at Miami will be my friends for a lifetime!

"My best extracurricular experiences would have to be being a member of Phi Delta Epsilon, Miami's pre-medical fraternity, as well as being a Big Sister.

"I have been a member of Phi DE since my freshman year, and in April 2015 I ended my term as president. Not only did I have a phenomenal time in this organization, but I was also able to make a difference in the community by helping our chapter raise over $15,000 for Cincinnati Children's Hospital. Doing so made us the second-highest fundraising chapter internationally!

"Since the first semester of my freshman year, I've been a mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters. What I do as a Big Sister varies each week, but to give you an example, in the spring my little brother and I worked on a solar system project for the Kinetics Festival. We made a planet that he calls the 'Pluto Rocky Planet'. This activity was a fun way to tie science into the program by discussing motion and physics with grade school students."

Miami and the Liberal Arts

"As a freshman, I decided to pick up both Biochemistry and Zoology majors because I thought they would be similar to what I would learn in medical school. I also knew from high school that I enjoyed chemistry and biology. I've honestly loved every Miami class that I've taken. These majors require hands-on experiences with all the different labs, and being a hands-on learner is good for going into the medical field. Not to mention that labs break up the monotony of sitting in a lecture hall all day!

"Being in the Honors Program, I didn't personally have to fulfill the Miami Plan requirements for the liberal arts portion of my education. However, I know that liberal arts education produces very well-rounded students. If you come in and focus solely on business or science, you'll be great at that, but there is so much more out there!

"Classes at Miami will really challenge you. The class that I learned the most from was my biochemistry lab with Dr. Ann Hagerman. She really pushed for understanding and taught as if you were in a real-life research setting. You had to figure out what you were going to do, select an approach, and decide how exactly you were going to do what you wanted to do (compared to being given instructions)."

Undergraduate Research Experiences

"I've also done a lot with research over the last four years, and this has helped expand my knowledge outside the classroom. At Miami, I worked with Dean Chris Makaroff, who is also in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. We were looking at various genes of A. thaliana and how they related to the physiology of the plant.

"During the summers, I've sought out additional research opportunities, and two in particular stand out.

"In 2012, I worked in the burn unit at Akron Children's Hospital. I was actually fortunate enough to present my research at both the Eastern Great Lakes Burn Care Conference and the American Burn Association Conference. My research project was focused on burn patient nutrition: how patients received their calories and protein, how long it took them to achieve their goals, and what could be done to improve their nutrition.

"In summer 2014, I worked on a pancreatic mouse model in the research lab of Dr. Julian Kim, a Miami alumnus, at University Hospitals in Cleveland. I actually met him in Oxford when he came to talk to students about his path to a career in medicine. I thought his research sounded really interesting, so I asked him if he had room for a student during the summer, and he said yes!"

Advice to Students

Jessica Walpole shows her Miami colors on a beach during Spring Break.

"Do what makes you happy!

"With respect to major, I picked the two majors that I liked. Many students pick majors because they think they'll look good to graduate school admissions directors. But from my experience, it doesn't matter what your major is and it doesn't matter what classes you take. You should only study something that you're passionate about. Believe me, it shows when you talk about your classes and experiences!

"Find things to do outside your major and what you think you may want to do. I played intramural sports for fun, to relieve stress, and to hang out with friends. For me, things like intramurals and being a part of Zeta Tau Alpha, were not related to medicine in the slightest, but they've been some of the things that I enjoyed most about college.

"As long as you're doing what you love, you'll do better! You'll want to learn and you'll be happier in the end.

"Also: Don't be afraid to put yourself out there!

"Everything that I've been involved in at Miami was because I took the initiative. Working with a professor can be as simple as saying, 'Would you mind taking on a student for the summer?' If an internship you want prefers juniors but you're a freshman, try it anyway. At the very least, you can reapply a couple times until they are familiar with your application! Also, research at Miami opens a lot of doors for additional internships and research opportunities over the summer."

[April 2015]